Forum for Young People to influence Council Policy, Objectives and Projects
Wexford County Council’s Council Chamber had an unusually youthful look about it on Monday last when 24 second-level students from the Wexford Borough District came together for the inaugural meeting of Wexford County Junior Council.
The establishment of the Junior Council is an initiative of Wexford County Council to promote interest among young people in democracy and local government and in community and civic affairs generally. The initiative, which sees four “junior councillors” selected to represent each school, is being piloted in the 6 Wexford District-based secondary schools, with a view to extending the programme across all 22 secondary schools in the county.
Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council, Councilor Paddy Kavanagh welcomed the students to the Council Chamber and congratulated them on their selection to represent their school on the Junior Council. He assured the students of the full support of the 34 elected members, describing the Junior Council as a much needed and valuable link between the youth of the County and the work of the County Council.
The initiative to establish the Junior Council was one of the key goals announced by Councillor Tony Dempsey when he was Cathaoirleach of the Council last year. Councillor Dempsey also attended Monday’s meeting and outlined the main purpose and work programme of the Junior Council, which will see the students analyse a range of Council services and projects from the perspective of young people. The Junior Council will then formally report to the Council with their findings, which will be used to inform, develop and improve those services.
Wexford County Council Chief Executive Tom Enright urged the young students to embrace the opportunity of the Junior Council to make their views and ideas known, assuring them that as representatives of the younger generation, their vision for the development of County Wexford was an important and legitimate factor in the development of Council policy. Mr. Enright stated that County Wexford was at a highly exciting time in its economic and social development, with new and ambitious opportunities coming to the fore, and with the input of the Junior Council, the County Council looked forward to exploiting those opportunities to the full.
One of the first actions of the Junior Council at Monday’s inaugural meeting was to elect their Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, with Karen Roche from the Presentation Secondary School Wexford and Daniel McCarthy from St Peter’s College, elected to those positions respectively. Speaking after her election, Ms. Roche said “I’m thrilled and honoured to be elected as Chairperson of the first Wexford Junior Council and I look forward very much to working with my fellow Junior Councillors to help reflect young people’s views in the Council’s work”
The Junior Council will meet fortnightly until the end of the school year in the Council Chamber at County Hall.